Join our Sarasota tour of modernist architecture

For a Sarasota tour of modernist architecture, look no further than Florida’s Sarasota MOD Weekend – first launched in 2014 and gaining momentum after bringing two formerly separate local architecture organizations under one umbrella: Architecture Sarasota. The festival, which this year ran from November 11-13, 2022, is the younger sibling of Palm Springs Modernism Week, an established celebration of vernacular mid-century modern architecture attended by a passionate community that lives and breathes it, and a global swarm of modern-o-philes (see the recent Palm Springs Modernism Week 2023 preview).

Like Palm Springs, Sarasota is a treasure trove of exemplary mid-century buildings, though the homes are often a bit more hidden thanks to tropical foliage. The city also has its own unique local architecture movement, the Sarasota School of Architecture, active in the 1950s and 1960s and characterized by the fusion of modernist ideas with experimental, climate-sensitive design; a combination of a Bauhaus approach to industrial materials, Frank Lloyd Wright’s interest in site specificity, and the influence of South American and tropical vernacular.

Architecture Sarasota MOD Weekend 2022 image: Zigzag House

(Image credit: John Pirman)

Highlights of the ninth Sarasota MOD weekend included Paul Rudolph and Ralph Twitchell’s experimental Cocoon home and Rudolph’s later Sarasota High School with its chunky shadow system. Morris Hylton, newly announced president-elect of Architecture Sarasota, was involved in an initiative to save another such project, Rudolph’s Riverview High School, also in Sarasota, which was sadly later demolished; while in a previous position with the World Monuments Fund, he allocated the first-ever Modernism At Risk grant to its conservation campaign. Architecture Sarasota continues this passionate work and is also involved in listing, buying and renting properties (such as Cocoon House) so that they can remain protected, maintained and open to the public.

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